MINI unveils racy John Cooper Works Countryman
Local enthusiasts can get to grips with the latest petrol-powered performer before the icon goes fully electric in 2030
MINI plans to go fully electric by 2030 and the latest, fourth-generation range was unveiled in September with an expanded line up of battery-powered Cooper and Countryman models.
In the meantime, enthusiasts of high-performance petrol-powered MINIs have had their prayers answered with this week’s international launch of the John Cooper Works (JCW) Countryman.
Arriving in SA in the second quarter of next year, the JCW Countryman blends a powerful 2.0l petrol turbo engine with all-wheel drive. With 233kW and 400Nm on tap, the crossover is claimed to blitz the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 250km/h.
The new design has an upright and minimalist silhouette, exuding what head of MINI brand Stefanie Wurst describes as a “sense of adventure, versatility and reliability”. The JCW logo has been redesigned with a modern, clear-cut look, and for the first time the logo is being used in the classic black, red, and white colour scheme.
With a sleek design, the new JCW Countryman has a drag coefficient of just 0.26, making it one of the most aerodynamic in its class.
All-wheel drive distributes power according to the driving situation, and a high-performance braking system features brake calipers finished in Chili Red. An exhaust flap system provides a racy sound, which is enhanced to those inside the car by a JCW sound extension.
The tyres have increased to 245mm in width and are fitted to aerodynamically optimised 19- and 20-inch wheels exclusive to JCW.
The JCW Countryman is visually identified as the top dog in the range with a high-gloss black grille, a motorsport-inspired Chili Red roof contrasting with the Legend Grey body colour, and aerodynamic elements with vertical reflectors on the front of the car to emphasise its wide stance. The roof curves down towards the rear, giving the car an agile silhouette despite being higher and wider than the previous model.
At the rear, upright JCW Signature Mode tail lights frame the body and underline the increased width.
Inside, the high-performance MINI has a reduced design and a black-and-red colour scheme — the latter being a nod to the brand’s racing heritage. The dashboard is a two-tone textile made from recycled polyester.
The new Countryman has grown into a more family-sized and versatile car, with rear seats that can be moved backwards or forwards by 13cm and a boot that offers 460l-1,450l of luggage space.
A toggle bar switch controls all driving functions, while a high-resolution OLED display is home to all the other functions. Those include the MINI Experience Modes, which set a preferred driving ambience using different backgrounds and sounds. Go-kart mode provides the sportiest driving experience and pipes the engine sound more loudly into the cabin.
The projector on the back of the OLED display can be used to bathe the dashboard in atmospheric colour schemes and patterns that correspond to the selected Experience Mode. Functions can be voice-controlled using “Spike”, a canine avatar inspired by an English Bulldog.
Driver assistance systems enabling partially automated Level 2 driving are optional.
The local range will also be launched next year with an all-electric Countryman SE All4, providing 230kW and 494Nm of silent power and a maximum range of 433km.
Pricing will be confirmed closer to the launch.
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